These past couple of weeks have forced me to do a lot of reflection. What I want. Where I’m going. Who I want to become. I had to filter through the muddied waters in my soul to return to the source of my inspiration and passion.
I listened to Gabrielle Aplin’s “Home” on repeat:
“I’m a phoenix in the water,
a fish that’s learned to fly…
It’s just I’d rather be causing the chaos
Than laying at the sharp end of this knife.
With every small disaster
I’ll let the waters still
Take me away to some place real.”
So much has happened since I’ve come to Japan. Some good things, some bad things, some things that I can’t control.
The world’s shown both cruelty and kindness. Even though I’ve experienced some good fortune time to time, others haven’t had it as lucky. I think to my friend that has recently passed away, the life and love that has forever been rendered incomplete. One of the things he always said to me was to do what I want. Have stupid fun. Live my life.
In honor of his memory, I started thinking about those words. About his life. Then I compared his advice to my current situation. Am I truly living the life I want? Am I dancing and laughing and enjoying each moment…as if there might be no tomorrow? If I didn’t wake up tomorrow, what can I accomplish today to make it as fulfilling as the future can be?
When I was a kid, I was never this gutsy. Decision-making was something I ultimately avoided, because I didn’t want to deal with the failure. Looking back to that person, I’d think she’d be intimidated by who I am now. But proud.
I refuse to be smothered and spit on. Last time I came to Japan, my spirit was crushed by the complexity of trying to fit in, of surviving. I went back to America with my proverbial tail stuck between my legs and swore I’d never go back. Well, here I am—a genuine phoenix rising from the ashes of my past and blazing forward.
So I won’t bow down or accept a single route. Not only am I a dancer, I’m a visionary. There is no box, no spoon, no boundaries—just a nebulous future that might vanish in an instant.
I came to Japan to eventually join a dance company and become an instructor and trainer. Yet the school I enrolled into is, frankly, disappointing. On the first week at an orientation for the foreign students, we were told that two previous students had died from overworking themselves. No true technique classes, just a lot of choreography that all looks the same. Absolute beginners are in the same classes as people with ten years of experience or more. How is that fair? Plus, there’s so many people crammed into one studio that we’re more like a school of fish rather than dancers. It’s sad. Some of them are incredible movers.
But I’m not 18 years old. I can’t spend day after day not sleeping, staying up all night rehearsing for a silly school fair. I don’t want to focus on hip hop and commercial, theme park styles. Don’t tell me to dance smaller when I’ve spent the past five years learning how to make myself bigger! Nor do I feel any need to learn how to break dance.
In my opinion, the best classes that I’ve taken at the vocational school were the ones taught by the American professionals brought in (Apollo Levine, Ron Brown, and Jonathan ‘Jojo’ Alsberry to name a few). Each class I found myself thinking: man, I miss American/European dance pedagogy.
I love the abstract, the lyrical. I find peace in improvisation, challenge in modern, and a strength in ballet. But what do you do when the school you’re in doesn’t offer modern or have an honest ballet class? After countless hours of research and rumination, I figured out a different route. The other day I skipped out of a school function to go elsewhere. The studio I visited has a small contemporary company, but when they heard about my goals and the head trainer saw me dance, he said, “I want to recruit her.” Of course, I’m nowhere near the professional level of the company members; however, they see potential and want to help me gain success.
We put our hands into a Musketeer-esque circle and shouted, “Fight, fight!”